Resurrection: Lone Riders Series Book Three






   Somewhere in the distance a train thundered by. Not enough to disturb the peace, but it had woken him anyway, pulled him back from the same dream he’d been having for weeks now.

Hauling himself up onto his elbows he took a couple of seconds to let his eyes adjust to the dim and dingy light. The smell in there wasn’t getting any better, either – a mixture of damp and something he couldn’t describe. Something he wasn’t sure he wanted to know much more about, save that it assaulted his nostrils every time he took a breath.

Reaching out he picked up his watch. He’d slept most of the day, but that wasn’t unusual. That’s what came of living in the dark – no sense of time. Limited daylight.

He looked over to the side again. A foil-wrapped parcel and a fresh bottle of water lay next to his discarded jacket. Another food drop must have happened while he’d been asleep, and for that he was grateful. Most of the time he was starving, but what little food he received on a regular basis, it was enough to keep him going.

Twisting the cap off the water he took a long drink, savouring every mouthful, thankful it was cold. The drop must’ve only happened recently.

Drawing his knees up to his chest he leaned forward, resting his forehead on his arms, closing his eyes and breathing in deep, then regretting it, because that smell made him feel sick at times. He had to get out of here, but striking too early would be a bad move. He knew that. He had to wait, until the time was right. And they’d let him know when that was. They stood to gain from this just as much as he did, and once it was over deals would be done, debts would be paid, and he’d be able to move on. Until then, all he could do was sit tight, and wait…


One


Hector Almeda never had been a patient man. That’s why his wife had left him after just six years of marriage. Why his daughter had taken every opportunity to rebel against him in the most extreme of ways. Why his friends both feared and respected him, in equal measure. Why his youngest son had fought him from the second he could talk.

‘You still think this is a good idea?’

Hector looked up, his eyes meeting the cold, steely gaze of his eldest son’s. ‘It needs to be finished, Sol. Once and for all.’

‘I thought we’d agreed to move on. I thought we’d put all this behind us.’

‘Have you forgotten what happened?’

Sol’s dark eyes held his father’s stare. ‘I’ll never forget what happened. But he paid the price.’

Hector looked away, turning around and walking out of the clubhouse. ‘It wasn’t enough.’

Sol followed Hector outside, grabbing the older man’s arm, swinging him around to face him. He’d never been afraid of his father. He’d never once let himself be intimidated by the self-imposed importance Hector Almeda had placed on himself. ‘If I can let it go, why can’t you, huh?’

‘It wasn’t enough, Sol. We don’t leave things like this; it’s not how it works.’

‘If I can say I’m done with it, if I can do that, then you should be able to do what you’ve done for the past five years and leave it alone. I don’t want any part of it. Not now. Digging all of that up again? You really want to go there?’

Hector stared down at his son’s hand gripping his upper arm. ‘You have no choice. We as a club have no choice. Things have escalated, Sol, and we can’t ignore that. We gave him a chance, when he came back here – we gave him a chance, but now… he’s changed the game and we didn’t do that, that was all on him. He became one of them, and that we can’t ignore. So you – you have no choice.’

Sol pulled his hand away, almost throwing his father’s arm down. ‘I’ve always had a choice.’

Once more Hector’s eyes met Sol’s, holding his gaze. ‘You really believe that?’

Sol let out a low, almost sinister chuckle, sliding his hands into his pockets, stepping back from Hector. ‘I’ve always had a choice.’

Hector watched his son walk away; watched him climb onto his bike and speed off out of the compound.

Sol had no choice. None of them did. Not anymore.

 

***

 

‘Three, two, one…’

The words fell like a growl from his slightly open mouth resting against her ear, and Mia couldn’t help but groan quietly as Ben’s hands gently pushed her legs a little further apart.

‘I’m going in,’ he whispered, and this time she couldn’t stop the giggles from escaping, his own low, guttural laugh merging with hers as he thrust into her, his thumb stroking her cheek, his eyes boring deep into her soul. And that’s when the mood changed – when his eyes met hers; when their bodies joined as one, fading into each other. That’s when the mood changed. When the messing about stopped and the enormity of just what it was she felt for this man engulfed her; an all-consuming, almost suffocating mess of emotions that she both hated and craved. But somewhere amongst all of that was a love she’d never felt the like of before, even though Ben Salter was a man she really should have stayed away from. Just as he should have stayed away from her. Together they were dangerous. But apart, neither of them existed.

‘Hey, come on.’ He smiled at her and she felt her stomach flip, which made her feel about sixteen again, but that was good. She needed that. She needed to feel like nothing else mattered except the two of them, and how they made each other feel. ‘Lose the sad face. Turn that frown upside down.’

She rolled her eyes, smiling back at him, her fingers lightly stroking the back of his neck as he continued to gently thrust into her. ‘How can you do this to me, huh? How can you make me feel this way?’

‘Because I’m a genius,’ he whispered, his lips touching hers, falling on to them in a long, slow, deep kiss as he lifted her up, her legs wrapping around his hips.

‘It’s your modesty that gets me every time, biker boy.’

He laughed again, another low, languid laugh that turned her insides into molten lava, a heat to match flooding her body as he gave one final thrust, spilling out inside of her in hard, forceful spurts. She closed her eyes, throwing back her head as his mouth kissed the base of her throat, his groans reverberating against her neck, an almost never-ending surge of white-hot heaven filling her up and she took it all, wanting everything. She needed it. He was like a drug she couldn’t leave alone now. A dark, dangerous, unpredictable drug that was so, so bad for her. And she was addicted.

‘We are gonna be so screwed if anyone catches us in here,’ she moaned, a wave of emptiness washing over her as she felt him withdraw.

‘I kinda like the danger.’ He smirked, putting her down and leaning into her, his hand on the wall beside her head, his breath warm on her face.

‘Danger?’ She yanked her skirt back down over her hips, throwing him a wry smile. ‘I would have thought this kind of shit didn’t even figure on your danger radar.’

Ben shrugged, reaching out to nudge a strand of dark hair from her eyes. ‘Fucking the club president’s sister-in-law-to-be, in the chapel, when he’s just yards away outside enjoying a beer? I’d call that pretty dangerous.’

Mia flung her arms up above her head, a lazy smile still on her face as her eyes bored into his, his fingers sliding between hers, their mouths meeting in another long, soulful kiss.

‘But, yeah, danger turns me on,’ he whispered, pressing himself against her, and Mia felt a shiver run the length of her body. ‘And I know it makes you wet.’

She groaned quietly, gripping his fingers tight as he let go of her other hand, sliding it between her legs, touching her, teasing her.

‘Jesus, does it make you wet.’

She bit down on her lip as his other hand slipped from her grasp, sliding her skirt back up over her hips as he crouched down in front of her. And when his tongue took over where his fingers had left off she couldn’t stop a loud cry of relief from escaping. His thumbs were pulling her wider apart, his tongue probing deeper, and Mia was certain her knees were going to give way any second but she didn’t care. He’d be there to catch her, because that’s what he did.

Taking hold of her other hand she gripped her own fingers tight, her arms still raised above her head as she thrust her hips towards him, his thumbs keeping her open, letting him reach deep into her, his tongue circling her clitoris before diving back inside. It was the most incredible feeling; a crazy, hot, sexy sensation. So when the tingles intensified, and the heat started to creep up her body, causing her knees to almost buckle once again, Mia didn’t hold back as his tongue finally brought her to the kind of climax she’d only ever dreamed of before. She let the cries spill out of her, groaning long and loud as he stayed inside her, feeling her come, tasting every last drop, and he didn’t pull away until the last shudder had racked her tired body.

‘Jesus, Ben…’ she breathed, stretching out. Every muscle ached now. But that was the kind of work-out she could take day after day. ‘Where’d you learn to do shit like that?’

‘I had a pretty good teacher.’

She looked at him, narrowing her eyes slightly. ‘Oh yeah? Like who?’

‘Does it matter?’

She looked at him for a second or two longer, slowly shaking her head. ‘No. I guess it doesn’t.’

He reached down to scoop up her discarded panties. ‘You gonna put these back on?’

‘Do you want me to?’

‘Shit, no!’

She took them from him, tucking them into the back pocket of her skirt before reaching out to pull him towards her, kissing him slowly, smiling as he slid his hand up to touch her naked ass.

‘You’re killing me, baby,’ he murmured, his mouth still resting against hers.

‘Ditto, handsome.’

‘We should really get back out there, huh?’

She laid a hand against his cheek, letting her finger tips run gently over his rough beard. ‘I suppose so.’

Laying his hand over hers, Ben’s expression turned serious. ‘I promise you, Mia…’

She shook her head, pressing her fingers against his lips. ‘No, Ben. I don’t want to know. Whatever it is you think you need to tell me, you don’t. The past is the past, remember? You said that, that’s what you promised me. The past is the past. What matters now is our future.’

He smiled a slow smile, his grip on her hand tightening. ‘OK.’

She leaned forward, the kiss she gave him long and lingering. ‘OK. I’ll see you out there.’

He nodded, reluctantly letting her go, watching as she sashayed out of the room, back to the party. Back to her family. And as he leaned back against the wall, raking both hands through his messed-up hair, he couldn’t help thinking about his. And the shit he had a feeling they were about to bring to his door.


Two

 

 

Kip took a draw on his cigarette, blowing a stream of smoke up into the air, unable to keep the grin off his face.

‘Yeah. And if I was fucking a Candy Cave girl on a regular basis I’d be wearing the same stupid expression as you right now.’ Luca Camilleri leaned over Kip, pulling a fresh bottle of beer from the ice-filled barrel, biting off the cap and spitting it out on to the ground.

‘You’re not gonna attract anyone with manners like that,’ Kip pointed out, eyeing the discarded bottle top lying on the cracked concrete.

‘Bollocks! They love all that shit. Turns them on like crazy.’

‘Yeah. All that macho crap is one dead-cert pussy magnet, huh?’

‘You got it, brother.’

Kip took one last draw on his cigarette before stubbing it out on the wall behind him. ‘Jesus, Luc, I was joking.’

Luca ignored him, downing a long mouthful of beer as he looked out at the party going on around them. ‘How’d you manage to snare Cat Harlow, anyway? Seemed to happen all out-of-the-blue.’

Kip helped himself to another beer. ‘Suppose it did, in a way. I mean, she’s been a Candy Cave regular for a while now, but…’ He shrugged, ‘I just never really noticed her before.’

‘Well, for a girl who spends a great deal of her time hanging out here she kinda breaks the mould, y’know?’

‘What? Because she doesn’t throw herself at any brother who just happens to show her the slightest bit of attention?’

‘She gave me the brush off.’

Kip threw his head back and laughed. ‘Yeah. Seems she’s not only beautiful, she’s also got a sensible head on those red-hot shoulders of hers.’

‘Whatever. But you’re a rock star around here, brother.’ Luca gave Kip’s back an appreciative pat, throwing him a wink as he stood up to go. ‘And don’t you forget it.’

Kip smiled to himself, swigging another mouthful of beer, a feeling of contentment momentarily rippling through him. Cat Harlow was a beautiful diversion, there was no denying that. But she still wasn’t enough of a distraction to make him consider dropping the very personal vendetta he still had against Ben Salter; ex-member of the Dark Angels, one of the most notorious biker gangs in the country. A man whose father had founded that MC. A man who Kip knew had more secrets than those he’d chosen to divulge to the Lone Riders, and that made him dangerous, in Kip’s eyes. He was sleeping with Mia – Kip’s half-sister – and it was no secret to anybody now how she felt about Ben; how he’d sucked her in and pulled her under and made her believe that he really had changed. But Kip knew men like Ben never changed. He was a one-percenter, someone who’d once done anything and everything he’d had to in order to win some turf war; gain territory his club had no right over. That was just the way things happened, in their world. Kip was all too familiar with the way gangs like the Dark Angels worked.

‘You’d think I’d be used to him by now, wouldn’t you?’

Kip looked up as Cat sat down beside him, taking his beer and stealing a mouthful. Kip raised an eyebrow. ‘Luca?’

‘The next time he touches my ass and claims his hand slipped I’m gonna rip it right off that scrawny, tattooed wrist of his.’

Kip’s mouth twisted up into a wide smile. Yeah. He kind of needed this woman right now. The attitude, the dirty mouth, not to mention the fact all her Candy Cave experience made her one crazy bitch in the bedroom – just the thought of her naked and wet, straight from the shower, her auburn hair dripping droplets of water down over her pert, hard nipples…

‘What’s wrong with you?’ she asked, her voice yanking Kip back to reality. But he was keeping that thought for later, when he’d turn it into one hot, practically illegal reality.

‘You having a good time?’

She gave a small laugh, looking briefly down at her clasped hands. ‘It’s not like these get-togethers are new to me, Kip.’ She raised her gaze, smiling at him. ‘Thank you.’

‘For what?’

She shrugged. ‘I dunno, really. For making my days hanging out here a lot more fun than they used to be?’

He smiled back, putting down his beer and sliding an arm around her waist, pulling her closer, kissing her quickly. ‘Well, that’s no chore, darlin’, believe me.’

She laughed quietly, gently stroking his cheek. ‘I guess some of that English charm is still in there somewhere, huh?’

‘Hey, don’t let that get out, y’hear me? I’ve got a reputation to keep up.’

Cat rested her forehead against his, and Kip felt his stomach do a full 360 degree flip, something he hadn’t felt since – well, since before he’d found out Mia was his sister. He’d felt it for her, but all of that – it could never happen now. And he was feeling it again, here, with Cat. Which was just what he needed – to feel something real again, with a woman he could have. But that didn’t mean to say he was done caring about what happened to Mia. Those feelings he still had for her, they were all kinds of wrong, but he was fast getting used to the fact that life could sometimes throw you some shitty curve balls, and you just had to deal with them. He couldn’t change the fact Mia was his sister, but he could do everything in his power to make sure she didn’t get hurt. She was in love with Ben Salter, and that bothered Kip. Ben Salter bothered Kip. Ben Salter had secrets and a past Mia should know about, Kip was certain of that. But he also knew he’d only scratched the surface when it came to the true extent of Ben’s past. And before he did anything, before he said anything he had to be certain he knew it all; why he’d left the Dark Angels; what had really gone on with his father. And once Kip had everything he needed, he’d make sure Mia finally knew the truth.

 


Three

 

 

‘You’re making me real nervous here, Coby, I have to tell you.’ Michael Bailey shook his head, turning down the tumbler of Scotch Coby offered him.

‘Nervous?’ Coby raised an eyebrow, eyeing the sheriff over the rim of his glass.

Michael leaned across the bar, lowering his voice slightly. ‘I tell you Shane Randell is more than likely the one responsible for what happened here less than a month ago, and you haven’t gone out all guns blazing looking for him?’

Coby poured himself another drink. ‘Neither have you.’

‘Oh, we’re looking for him, Coby, believe me. But I thought our biggest problem was gonna be getting to him before you, so do you want to let me know why you seem to be ignoring the fact this man tried to kill you?’

‘I’m not ignoring anything, Michael.’ Coby downed his drink before looking straight at the sheriff. ‘I guess I’ve just got more important things to think about right now.’

Michael frowned, a look of confusion taking over. ‘Is there something going on here I should know about? Jesus, what am I saying? There’s always something going on around here I should know about.’

‘I’ve got a family now, Sheriff.’

Michael shrugged. He was still confused. ‘And? You had a family before, what the hell’s changed?’

‘Maybe I’m just mellowing out, huh? You ever thought about that?’

Michael laughed. He couldn’t help it. ‘You? Mellowing out? I’ve got more chance of becoming Leader of the Free World than of that happening.’

Coby slowly shook his head. ‘So cynical, Sheriff. So cynical.’

‘And how do the rest of them feel, huh? All your other brothers. How do they feel about you sitting back and letting Shane get away with torching your clubhouse, putting their president’s life at risk; betraying them all, letting them think they could trust him? How do they feel, Coby?’

An uneasy couple of beats passed before Coby spoke again. ‘Like I said, we’ve got more important things to be focusing on.’

‘Like what?’

‘Do you want me to hunt him down, Michael? Because I’m telling you, I find him and I’ll hack his balls off with a rusty blade and watch him die slowly without one hint of remorse, but, do you know what? I’m just not fucking interested. He means shit to me now. This club, it doesn’t remember a Shane Randell. He never existed. He’s gone.’

‘And if he shows his face again?’

‘You’re gonna get to him first, aren’t you? Before he even has a chance to get anywhere near here.’

Michael trailed a hand through his hair. ‘In an ideal world, yes. But the world you lot live in is one I still can’t get my head around. And I think even you know that if Shane still wanted to get to you, he’ll find a way. I mean, doesn’t that bother you? Doesn’t that…? Jesus! The way you do things…’ He let out a long, heavy sigh. ‘None of this has helped ease my nerves, Coby.’

‘I’m not trying to ease any nerves, Sheriff. I’m just telling it like it is.’

‘And you do realize that he did what he did because he wants Lexi? You know that, don’t you? You realize he isn’t a rational man, he isn’t thinking straight. He tried to kill you because he’s got some crazy, irrational obsession with your old lady. And that doesn’t bother you?’

Coby looked up sharply. ‘I know why he did it, Michael.’

‘And Lexi – she’s aware of everything, is she?’

‘Everyone’s up to speed, aye,’ Coby sighed. ‘Which means everyone’s looking out for each other, but what we aren’t doing is looking for some kind of vigilante shit, you got that? Revenge, retribution, all of that, it’s over. This club is done with that crap. We’re starting again, moving forward. For real this time.’

‘So, what are we talking about here? Some kind of pseudo resurrection? You comparing this club to a phoenix rising from the ashes, is that it?’

Coby fixed Michael with a look, but didn’t offer any kind of reply.

‘You’re really telling me you’re gonna let this lie?’ Michael persisted.

‘Everyone here co-operated. We did our bit, did what we needed to do. We told the police everything we knew, and that was enough. We promised we wouldn’t be seeking out our own justice, and I meant that. Look, Sheriff, I just want to marry my girl, look after my kid, and keep this club safe. OK? You want to tell me what’s wrong with that?’

‘Nothing. There’s nothing wrong with that, and believe me, there’s a part of me that’s kinda relieved you’re talking like this. But there’s another part of me – the bigger part, I might add – that can’t help being worried, because this… this isn’t you, Coby. It isn’t you.’

‘People change, Michael. Especially when they’ve got reason to. And after what happened to me, I got reason to.’

Michael held up his hands in surrender. He was done banging his head off a wall. It wasn’t getting him anywhere. ‘OK. OK, I’m done here. But just tell me one thing – if we find him; if we find Shane…’

Coby raised his eyebrows in question. ‘What do you want me to say? I’m assuming you’ll deal with him, make sure he gets what he deserves. It’s in your hands now. But my guess is he’ll be long gone from California. He’s a man who knows how to cover his tracks, remember?’

‘Jesus Christ,’ Michael sighed. ‘I think I preferred it when this place gave me sleepless nights… Shit! I’m doing it again. This place will always give me sleepless nights.’

Coby smiled, raking both hands through his messed-up, gray-streaked hair. ‘I told you I was gonna turn this club around, Michael. And I meant that. What happened with Shane – what happened with Lennie; all that stuff with Mia, they were just shit storms we had to deal with. And now I want to get back to the way we were, before any of that happened. We were on the right track. We can get there again.’

Michael returned Coby’s smile. ‘Y’know, I’m gonna let myself believe that. Because any other option is in danger of setting my ulcer off.’

Coby threw back his head and laughed. ‘Giving me the benefit of the doubt, huh?’

‘Something like that, yeah.’ Michael’s attention was distracted by the sight of Ben pulling up outside the clubhouse. ‘Anyway, I’d better get out of here. Got things to be doing, bad guys to catch.’ He threw Coby one last smile. ‘You know how it is…’ He started for the door, but then stopped, turning back around. ‘Look, before I go…’ He took another quick glance outside. Ben was talking to Jesse, leaning back against his bike, arms folded, every inch the biker Michael thought he’d left behind. And it killed him to think he’d reverted back to that life; that he’d made a decision to join an MC that neighbored his father’s. A dangerous move he may yet live to regret. And he may not be the only one. ‘About Ben.’

Coby raised an eyebrow. ‘What about him?’

‘Was it wise, to bring him into this club? Knowing his past, knowing who he’s connected to?’

‘He’s a good kid. And if he says he’s changed, then I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. I think I know him well enough by now to have a handle on him. I can trust him, OK? The shit he’s had to deal with as our lawyer, if he’d wanted to pass any information on to anyone else he’s had plenty of chances to do so. And he hasn’t done that. So I can trust him.’

Michael frowned, not entirely sure he was believing this. ‘And… you’re aware that Hector Almeda wants to see Ben, aren’t you? After all this time… He’s one of you now. That won’t sit well with the Dark Angels.’

‘That the only reason?’ Coby fixed Michael with a questioning look, and Michael swallowed hard. ‘Tell me, Sheriff. How much do you know about the reason why Ben left the Dark Angels? I mean, when Lexi was hounded out of Paradise you knew every reason why that had happened. So, how much do you know about Ben’s reasons for being exiled?’

‘I’m not close to the Dark Angels, Coby. You know that.’

Coby raised another eyebrow, but he left it at that.

Michael swallowed down another knot of nerves, his frown deepening. ‘You are aware that this could kick-start something… Jesus, Coby…’

‘Whatever’s going on with his father, Michael, it has nothing to do with the Lone Riders. We’ve had no beef with the Dark Angels for years now, and even then it was nothing serious. No lives were lost, no guns were fired.’

‘Guns were involved, Coby, but I’m not even gonna go there.’ He took a long, deep breath, followed by a heavy sigh of resignation. ‘OK. I’m gonna have to trust you on this one. But I can’t promise… Just be careful. All right?’

‘You know me, Sheriff.’

‘Yeah. I do. That’s the problem.’ Heading outside, Michael waited until Ben had finished his conversation with Jesse before he approached him. ‘A word.’

Ben turned to look at him. ‘Something up?’

‘Yeah, something’s up. And you burying your head in the fucking sand isn’t gonna change any of it.’

Ben’s expression hardened, his eyes growing darker. ‘You really want to do this here?’

‘You’re not giving me all that much choice, son, seeing as you’re doing all you can to avoid any of it. Your father…’

‘I’m not doing this, Michael.’

‘You don’t have that many options now, believe me.’

‘All that crap – it’s behind me, it’s over…’

‘There’s talk, Ben. Rumors.’

Ben’s eyes narrowed, but there was a darkness behind them that caused Michael to shiver slightly, despite the warmth of the afternoon sun. ‘Rumors?’

‘Christ, is everyone playing dumb today? You know what’s going on, Ben. You’re not some wet-behind-the-ears prospect; you know how this shit goes down. You’ve become a member of an MC that neighbors your father’s. You didn’t even have the fucking decency to find somewhere far away from here, if this is what you really had to go back to…’

‘You know why I had to be here, Michael. For Mia. I fell in love, and she’s a part of this club, I can’t change that.’

‘You could have both made a fresh start somewhere new, if this is what you really needed to do…’

‘And after everything she’s been through, you think it would’ve been fair of me to tear her away from a family she’s only just realized she has?’

‘But that’s it, Ben. She’s only just realized they are her family.’

Ben stared at the sheriff, his only response to that a short, humorless laugh.

‘You think it’s fair to put her in yet more danger, huh?’ Michael’s eyes bored deep into Ben’s. ‘Because you aren’t the safest person to be around right now. You really aren’t.’

‘Look, I assumed they’d learned to live with what had happened.’ Ben’s voice was calm and controlled, an almost cold edge to it. ‘I thought they’d accepted that…’ He shook his head, his eyes dipping to the ground, his voice softening slightly. ‘It was all such a mess, Michael, you know that, you know… I mean, what they did…’ He pushed a hand through his hair, his eyes darting this way and that as they scoured the compound, making sure nobody was witnessing this exchange. ‘I got the message. I gave in to them, did what they wanted. So I assumed that was it.’

‘You’re really that naive?’

‘I just wanted to put all that shit behind me.’

‘You should never have come back here. I told you… You knew coming back here was going to open that can of worms right back up and…’

‘Quit with the crap, OK? I came back, I can’t change that. I came back, I got on with my life, shit happened…’

‘You put your head above the parapet, Ben. You made yourself visible.’

‘They knew, when I came back here, that I was working for the Lone Riders. They knew that.’

‘Working for them and becoming one of them are two completely different things, Jesus Christ, Ben, come on!’

‘They won’t do anything.’

‘Are you really that deluded? I’ve known what Hector Almeda is capable of long before you were even born, and I know how everything he stood for rubbed off on you, on Sol and Livvy… Your sister, she was the sensible one. She got out, got herself a life outside of all this crap and she’s happy, isn’t she? She’s safe and she’s happy. And you could’ve been that, too, Ben. You could’ve been safe and happy, in L.A. – anywhere. You could’ve been happy, anywhere but here.’

‘I am happy.’

‘You’re in denial. Your father, he doesn’t forget. He isn’t that kind of man. For some reason he saw fit to let it go once, and I can only assume that’s because, somewhere, deep inside his fucked-up soul, he dredged up some kind of fatherly feelings that saved your fucking ass…’

‘He tried to have me killed.’

‘And he didn’t try again, did he? He let it go. Because he didn’t think you’d be stupid enough to come back. And for five years, somehow – I have no idea what the hell was going on in his head for five years, I can only assume it was your brother’s influence, but now… He’ll be out for revenge this time, Ben. You know that. Hector Almeda, he bears grudges, and you joining the Lone Riders, all you’ve done there is give him more ammo; another reason to chase you down, make you pay…’

‘He won’t do anything, because he has secrets, Michael. And you know what those secrets are. You know what he did…’

‘And I kept my side of the bargain. I kept my head down, said nothing; stayed out of his way. And now this. You coming back here, you started this. You set those wheels in motion… Jesus! I should have been stronger. Should have done more to stop you… Look, you really need to talk to him, Ben.’

‘You think my father responds to talking? Sorry… if we’re talking about being deluded, I think you may have just stolen my crown there, Sheriff.’

‘Talk to him, Ben.’

Ben’s gaze took on an even steelier glare, causing Michael to take a step back.

‘I don’t have a father anymore. OK?’

‘And if that were true, then we’d all be sleeping safer in our beds. But you know it isn’t. And you’ve got to do something about that.’

‘For your benefit, Sheriff? Because it sure as hell ain’t gonna help me. And while we’re on this subject, does Coby – do any of the Lone Riders know just how close to the Dark Angels you really are? Do they have any idea of the hold my fucking father has over you?’

Michael took a step forward, his own expression hardening now, an anger he’d really wanted to keep down doing its best to push forward. ‘Do something about it, Ben. And do it soon. Because, if what I’m hearing is true, you really haven’t got that much time.’



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